Peres at Tel Nof.
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
President Shimon Peres paid condolence calls on Monday to the families of the
six pilots and technicians killed last week in a helicopter crash in
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The fallen were Lt.-Col (res.) Avner Goldman, 48, from Modi’in;
Lt.-Col.Daniel Shipenbauer, 43, from Moshav Kidron; Maj. Yahel Keshet,
33, from Hatzerim; Maj. Lior Shai, 28, from Tel Nof; Lt. Nir Lakrif, 25, from
Tel Nof; and St.-Sgt. Oren Cohen, 24, from Rehovot.
Speaking at the Tel
Nof Air Force base and in Rehovot, Peres told the families that the tragedy
affected not only them, but the whole nation.
“These were the finest sons
of Israel,” he said.
Peres, who had flown on various occasions with the
fallen airmen, said that he felt very close to the families in their respective
losses. The Israel Air Force is among the best in the world, he said, and much
of that reputation is due to people of the caliber and quality of the fallen
Peres, both a former defense minister and the father of a
decorated combat pilot, said that the mountainous terrain of Romania was
extremely difficult to navigate, but that there was no choice for Israel’s
pilots and their crews if they wanted to gain the experience of being able to
fly successfully in all conditions.
Turning to Lakrif’s widow Maggie, who
is four months pregnant, Peres said he hoped and prayed that the future of the
children of tomorrow would be one of peace.
Peres expressed particular
sympathy for Maggie Lakrif, who was married for so short a time and will have to
face the burden of raising her yetto- be-born daughter alone. Peres told her she
had a heavy responsibility of passing on her husband’s legacy to their
In addition, the president expressed regret over the terror attack
on Eilat and the harm caused to innocent people in Israel and Jordan as a
Israel and Jordan are partners in the struggle against terror, he
said, and both are interested in direct negotiations between Israel and
Palestinians in the hope that such negotiations will lead to a
peace in the Middle East. What is happening now, said Peres, is a battle
the Arab moderates who want peace and the extremists who don't.